The Kentuck Festival of the Arts has found its home in Tuscaloosa, leaders announced Thursday morning.

Exa Skinner, the new executive director at Kentuck, said the first Festival to be held outside of Kentuck Park in Northport will be held on 10 acres of land in Snow Hinton Park, which is in the middle of a $10 million facelift.

The change comes after leaders in Northport sought to reduce the annual funding they provide to the Kentuck Arts Center in what has been acknowledged as an act of retaliation over a quickly dropped trademark lawsuit filed last year.

With Northport proposing to cut Kentuck's annual funding by 15 percent and including controversial clauses in a contract they wanted signed before the funds were released, the Kentuck board of directors opted to explore options outside of Northport and quickly found an enthusiastic partner south of the Black Warrior.

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Skinner said the Festival will feature more than 270 artists, live music, spoken word, activities for children, folk and contemporary craft demonstrations, food trucks, and local craft brews.

"We are looking forward to hosting the 53rd Kentuck Festival in Snow Hinton Park," said Exa Skinner, executive director of Kentuck Art Center. "Hosting an event this large is no easy feat, but through Kentuck’s partnership with the City of Tuscaloosa, we're excited to be able to continue the legacy of the Kentuck Festival of the Arts in West Alabama."

"I am especially excited about all the paved paths that will be installed this spring and summer," said Skinner. "Accessibility has been a top priority when considering all location options, and I'm thrilled to say that this location will be far more accessible for our guests with mobility challenges."

As the Thread first reported, the city is spending $10 million to improve the park, where work is underway right now.

(City of Tuscaloosa)
(City of Tuscaloosa)

Skinner said improvements include new bathrooms, several permanent pavilions, and many benches for festival guests to use. A parking lot dedicated to accessible parking will be available on site, and public parking will be available at no cost in neighboring lots.

"Kentuck Art Center is committed to providing an exceptional experience to our artists, guests, and volunteers," said Michelle Robinson, board president. "The Kentuck Festival you've come to know and love will have a new layout this year, but the organization hosting it and our love for the arts is the same."

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